Councils 'must be prepared' to make switch to cloud computing

25 Apr 17

Local authorities have been urged to ensure they are thoroughly prepared and have proper leadership in place if they are planning to switch to cloud computing.

An academic study, published last week, tracked what happen when local authorities shift their in-house IT services to internet-based providers.

Researchers at Brunel University London focused on three councils, including Warwickshire County Council and the London Borough of Hillingdon, which were among the first to make the move.

While the move to cloud brought with it several advantages for councils, such as making it easier for staff to work from home and better information management, drawbacks were also identified.

Researchers noted that the move tended to be made too rapidly, and there was a loss of control and governance, with a lack of clarity over who was responsible when things went wrong.

One of the councils studied found itself immediately hit by hackers.

Council workers also told the researchers they felt the move had been rushed because of a need to meet a political agenda.

Uthayasankar Sivarajah, lecturer in operations and information systems management and part of the research team at Brunel, said the team’s findings contained messages for both local and central government.

“There are huge black holes between what the councils are trying to do and what they are achieving,” Sivarajah said.

In particular, councils needed to ensure the “right person” is driving and leading the implementation and ensuring staff buy in.

“At operational level they could all see real benefits in cost savings,” he added.

“But it is still early days and we don’t know what the long-term impact will be. That may take 10 years to find out. It might reduce the headcount in IT departments, but I can’t see it cutting out the need for them altogether.”

  • Vivienne Russell

    Vivienne Russell is managing editor of Public Finance magazine and publicfinance.co.uk

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